Episode 537 - Historicity

Jun 28, 2021

We have a chat about historicity in this Quackcast. What IS historicity? It's historical authenticity basically but a nicer way of saying it! It's pretty important for a lot of reasons to make the best effort you can with historical authenticity- it increases immersion of the audience, gives you a better understanding of the story and the world you're looking at (because things will make sense), and leads you to better understanding of your own history and where we came from. BUT, that doesn't mean you always have to be strict. As long as you as a creator properly understand historical context then you've got a lot more leeway to play without creating something stupid. Playing fast and loose with history is ok as long as you know what you're doing, not just being a moron and faking it (hey, many of us are guilty of that). Historical fantasy, myth, classics, fiction, biography etc are all different classes of story where it's more or less forgiveable to mess around.

Topics and Show Notes

Asterix is a great example of a series made by creators who know their stuff. They've set it in a real historical period, used real historical figures and events. But it's fiction and silly comedy and because they know the subject so well they can screw with it, compress history, put Vikings in a time period hundreds of years before they existed, and tell modern satirical stories using a historical stetting. The musical Hamilton is another example of creators who know their subject intimately, so they re-frame the story of a US founding father with a cast of black Americans and create a work of intelligent social commentary that still has historical veracity.

Bad examples typically have an a-historical character who for no reasons at all has fully modern attitudes despite their historical setting- often typified by a lady character who chafes at her “constrictive” corset - this has become a cliché and now a meme for people who are bad at history.

An interesting example to me is the British horror series Penny Dreadful where they did an excellent job of creating a convincing historical setting and environment. They had characters with more “modern” ideas but they had very good reasons to have them in that setting, they had a more modern demographic to the cast and also made that fit perfectly as well: history is often “whitewashed”, especially 19th century London, but they worked around that beautifully and gave us a realistically diverse cast. And yet despite all the effort they'd done to make things fit and work across several seasons, they really undermined it by introducing a kick-arse kungfu-fighting lady doctor in lovely tailored suits in the final few episodes when they knew they were cancelled and couldn't finish the season. The character sort of trod on and peed all over the work the others had done to set themselves up and round themselves off.

Though, as I've said: historical fantasy, myth, classics, fiction, biography etc all have different amounts of leeway for what they are. In the case of Penny Dreadful it's a horror fantasy with a historical setting so it had a LOT of leeway. The trouble was that they set a solid precedent by creating their own style with excellent historicity, even though they didn't have to, which was why it hurt when they broke it. It was a betrayal of the other characters, especially Eva Green's character Vanessa Ives, a woman who struggled for her place in the world and built her strength from within, brick by brick, only to be shown up by an unimaginative standard trope Buffy the Vampire Slayer type character.

This wouldn't be complete of course without a mention of Blackadder: a brilliant historical comedy that knows its stuff enough to break it beautifully! What are your fave “historical” things to enjoy and what are your least fave?

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme to Chatterbox - Starting off down home, country bluegrass, playing the mouthorgan as you cruise around the back roads on your whumptruck… developing into a rollicking, rolling, joyous, fun roadhouse concert, complete with trumpets, piano, bass guitar, lead, old style electric organs, the whole deal! Get up and dance!

Topics and shownotes

Links

Featured comic:
Patchwork and Lace - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/jun/22/featured-comic-patchwork-and-lace/

Featured music:
Chatterbox - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Chatterbox/ - by Banes, rated M.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/banes

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Episode 534 - Biting off more than you can chew

Jun 7, 2021

4 likes, 2 comments

Taking on more than you can handle - i.e. James Cameron and JJ Abrams are good directors and writers but neither could handle the demands of a complex Sci-Fi project that needs full world building and internally consistent logic etc (Avatar and Star Wars). They're great with more simple SciFi that's based on 21st century earth and simpler stories, but epic SciFi was clearly a long way beyond the capabilities of either. We're talking about when WE have been caught taking on stuff we couldn't handle, how we dealt with that and also how other creators dealt with it too.

Episode 532 - Fixing art to make it less sexy?

May 23, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

Tantz made a great newspost about this little trend of “fixing” people's art to make it less sexy, as if there was something wrong with sexy art. I think worst about it though is the implied moral superiority of the “fixer”. They're judging the art as non-realistic and “bad” (because it's sexy), and they set about “fixing” it to gain some sort of social kudos, slimming busts, increasing the girth of the figure, making their pose less provocative etc… I think the exercise would be perfectly fine if the context and the attitude wasn't one of “I judge this art to be BAD because it's sexy, I am fixing it to make it non-sexy and that will make it better! And you will all agree that the original was shit and I have improved it!”.

Episode 530 - What is SciFi?

May 10, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

So what IS SciFi? Well it's a pretty wide umbrella term and contains a lot of different things. In some senses it's just an imaginative fiction story where science replaces magic. SciFi can simply be a sciencey setting where genre stories take place (romance, adventure, nior, horror). It can be a magical fantasy space opera with a futuristic skin (Star Wars), it can be “hard SciFi” where the story is set in the future but the science is completely plausible, it can be written with strong themes that examine philosophical questions and make interesting points about the nature of humanity, and it can be so many more things too. It's a broad church!

Episode 529 - Time loops!

May 2, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

Time loops in stories are a lot of fun, they can be really complicated and interesting. Groundhog day is the most famous version of this trope. Banes tells me it's a “trope codifier”. In a time loop story characters are caught reliving the same events over and over with the main character being the only one who's really aware of it, Sometimes the loop happens only once or a couple of times, or many, many times as in Groundhog Day and Palm Springs. We chat about some of the different time loop stories, their characteristics and why we like them.

Episode 528 - How tall are your characters?

Apr 26, 2021

3 likes, 0 comments

Character height is not something we think about too much but it's actually a fairly big deal: in terms of what the height means, what it means contextually, how the character fits into their world, how they relate to others around them, and how it's like to draw them! A character can loom, they can shrink down, they can appear bigger than they are due to force of personality or smaller due to being shy and retiring, Largeness can equal power and strength, stupid docility, threat, potential, or it can be used to highlight the strength of a much smaller character that beats them as in many animes.

Episode 524 - Empathy

Mar 28, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

Image credit: There's Something About Mary, 20th Century Fox. Empathy is like sympathy but you don't think about it. It's what happens when you see someone get hurt and you wince in pain watching them, it's when you see a really uncomfortable moment in a sitcom like The Office and you cringe, It's when you feel sad when the characters are sad about something. Empathy is an important tool for audience immersion- if they're feeling that strongly for the characters then you've got them invested in your story! Funny story… the topic of this Quackcast was inspired by us talking about the risks of “going commando” and the fact that it can happen to women as well as men. This led us to go looking for photographic and video proof, as you do… and what we saw gave us instant empathy for the poor unfortunate. Hence the Quackcast topic ;) This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to PleaseRewind: Quiet threat, creepy, seeping, strumming, thrumbing, coming CLOSER, inside, peering around, waiting to begin. This is a quiet track filled with an undertone of urgency suggested by the constant quick rhythm and lonely guitar.

Episode 520 - Fans!

Mar 1, 2021

3 likes, 1 comment

Today we're talking fans! Isn't it great to have them? We're all fans of something, but as webcomicers having fans means they're a dedicated audience who care about your creative output and send their love and appreciation to you- this really helps you stay motivated and inspired to keep on creating and producing new work. Here we talk about our experiences with fans and of BEING fans. It helps that we're fans of each other. But we also chat about some of the things we're fans off. What are your fan experiences and what are YOU a fan off?


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